This Woman Tried To Keep Internet Bots From Knowing About Her Pregnancy
The internet knows a lot about you. It takes outlaw tactics to opt out.
I will never get pregnant, but I can imagine wanting to only share than information with friends and family, and not marketing companies and the internet at large. Going about a normal life these days, that is basically impossible to do. One expecting mother made that her mission, though, and had to go to extreme lengths to do it.
As Janet Vertesi writes at Time, she only bought items with cash, as credit card purchases of things like maternity clothes can give you away to marketing algorithms–“identifying a single pregnant woman is worth as much as knowing the age, sex and location of up to 200 people,” she noted. She also told family members not to say anything about the upcoming baby to her on social media, which is moniored for that kind of thing. Surfing the web isn’t safe either due to cookies and other tracking software, so she download Tor, which routes traffic through foreign servers, and is known for illicit activity.
Of course you cannot control what everyone else does. Here’s one example that Vertesi brings up to show how hard it is to “opt out”:
Perhaps a bit of an overreaction, but Vertesi’s quest–or anybody’s–to opt out requires extreme measures. As she explained, internet companies stand to gain from your information, and perceived privacy is “sleight of hand.” These companies “hope that users will not only accept the trade-off between ‘free’ services and private information, but will forget that there is a trade-off in the first place,” she added.
In related news, the Obama administration released a report on Thursday (May 1) warning of the potential for abuse of private information by data brokers.